The buying patterns of Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson and the Demi O'Byrne/Coolmore Stud team in recent years have indicated each has avoided young horses with ties to the other camp. So when Fasig-Tipton was sold earlier this year to a Dubai-based company headed by one of Sheikh Mohammed's close associates, there was speculation that Coolmore might boycott Fasig-Tipton's auctions.
During the first Fasig-Tipton sale held following deal's closing on May 30, it was apparent that Coolmore team members weren't boycotting the auction in terms of their attendance. Both O'Byrne and Paul Shanahan were on the grounds for the July select yearling auction. Neither O'Byrne's or Shanahan's name appeared on a sale ticket, but that couldn't be interpreted as a sign of a buying boycott because the July sale doesn't usually offer the fancy-pedigreed colts, which could become $40-million stallion prospects with grade I success, that Coolmore craves.
O'Byrne and associates generally have been more active at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling sale in August in New York. Last year, O'Byrne spent $1,455,000 there for three horses.
"I have no idea," said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson when asked about the possibility of a Coolmore boycott following the July auction. "They looked at horses, and we've had several sales in the past where we haven't had the product they sought."